Technical Solutions to Embracing Hybrid Onboarding

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 14/03/2022
hybrid onboarding

As restrictions are being lifted and companies are returning to their physical offices, we want to call out to business owners with a warning not to rush aborting the digital approach. Certain processes have been noted to work better with in-person and digital practices combined. Hybrid onboarding is one of them.




While some businesses have declared remaining remove even past the pandemic, others were eager to rush to return to their physical premises. However, as regulations would prohibit a swift switch back to the old office days, the hybrid model has been introduced. Although firstly viewed as a temporary measure, this approach has proven to be highly effective for a number of businesses. It became apparent that some processes, for example, employee onboarding, are smoother and quicker when they combine both in-person and digital approaches.

The onboarding process has been somewhat neglected by businesses for many years. But being forced to employ new staff members without meeting them face-to-face posed enough challenges for the companies to start treating it with more caution. This led to a finding that while both in-person and remote onboarding processes offer great benefits when approached with care, it’s hybrid onboarding that trumps them both. That is when it’s supported by the right solutions.

The Future is Hybrid

Although born out of the need to adapt to an unexpected global change in which the only type of communication is digital, the hybrid approach isn’t going away once the virus is defeated. As the restrictions were getting lifted, the world started exploring the middle ground between the all-virtual and fully in-person workplace models. Turns out that some of the processes are handled better when addressed in person - think brainstorming, decision making, etc. Others, on the other hand, are better off addressed virtually - document storage and backend operations, to name a few. And some, like onboarding, strive when both approaches work in tandem.

Building the Hybrid Onboarding Experience

Hybrid everything is one of the key traits of the lockdown era when the whole world was forced to digitalise the entirety of processes. Staff onboarding is one of them. Given massive layoffs at the start of the pandemic, many found themselves becoming new starters virtually. From this experience, companies were able to navigate and define what made their onboarding experience smooth and what areas should be given more attention for better efficiency. 

Digital Onboarding Platform

Since the hybrid onboarding process entails both, in-person and remote communication, you will need to find a suitable digital outlet to support it. For example, a digital onboarding platform would be a fully automated platform that is, when accessed by a new hire, asking them to upload digital versions of the required documentation.

Such platforms vary in functionality, customisation options and information displays - your direct needs and the current state of the process should be guiding you towards the right solution. If the prior approach to onboarding included a semi-formal introduction of the new starter to the team, the platform may prompt them to quickly write one - and it will then be distributed to everyone in the company once the ‘submit’ is hit. Or, if it’s the older staff members that are encouraged to make first contact, upon the new started getting access to their account, everyone on the team would be notified with a reminder to give the new hire a warm welcome.

In other words, hybrid onboarding doesn’t mean your processes need to change. But they can be made smarter, more efficient and quicker using a designated platform.

Channels of Communication

The inability to communicate face-to-face also bred the popularity of alternative platforms; you’re probably very familiar with solutions such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. However, not all means of communication are strictly voice and video. In fact, the digital onboarding platform also serves as a channel of communication.

Since most solutions include centralised file storage, they also support real-time collaboration and track editing. This opens a live communication channel via commentary on documents, either building a foundation for future interactions or quickly clarifying facts that are major enough to require clarity yet too minor to spend time going back and forth arranging the call.

Personalised Virtual Onboarding

It’s often discussed that the hybrid approach to onboarding lacks personalisation and the remote hires miss out on the opportunity to form bonds with the team. While there’s a strong basis for this concern, it’s not entirely justified. Hybrid onboarding can also be highly personalised, and be even more effective in that as opposed to the traditional way. Success highly depends on how you build and optimise the process.

Preparation Begins Before Onboarding

Despite the effectiveness of your onboarding process and even when it’s optimised to be hands-off, one fact remains true - then the new starter is likely to be overwhelmed on their first day. Even when digitalised, the day of stepping into a new position is burdened with admin work and meeting new colleagues. While many view these as key components of onboarding, we insist that these are actually parts of the preboarding process.

Begin collecting documentation of your new starter from the moment they sign the contract - which will be the first piece of a document stored on the onboarding platform. This way they will have a designated period of time prior to their official joining date to take care of the admin work, as well as give you time to review and approve it without a rush. The preboarding should be streamlined across the entirety of your company as cross-departmental coordination build a holistic understanding and awareness of the new hire’s work parameters. Such an approach allows each department to be prepared to provide the new starter with what they need right upon joining.

Automation to Personalise Experiences

One of the common misconceptions when it comes to automated processes is that they are generic and lack an individual approach. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The problem is that many seem to misunderstand what personalisation is - the scope covers everything from personalisation tokens to a different set of instructions sent to the new starter upon completing the onboarding questionnaire, based on their replies.

The onboarding automation isn’t designed to cater to the new hires only. In companies that have multi-step approval processes, it can be used to notify a relevant manager they are to review or approve the documentation or are to set a 1-on-1 conversation with the new starter. The ways to personalise an onboarding procedure through automation are virtually endless and are limited by either your creativity or technical limitations. A few other samples of automation-driven onboarding procedures would be sending the new starter a contact list and brief introduction of their teammates, recommendations for employee resources or social groups based on new hires’ preferences or an invitation to the first non-formal team function (e.g. Friday Zoom Pop Quiz).

Transitioning into the Role

The experience you provide to the new starter within the initial 30 days shouldn’t be different from your communication further down the line. Although you will be cutting down on the handholding, it’s important you will still be there to support your employees. In a hybrid workplace environment, this may be tricky as you won’t be within physical proximity. The best way is to solve this is to employ the system you’ve used for the onboarding to also function as an internal company channel. This way your new starter will already be thoroughly familiar with the platform and their experience will remain consistent. 

Employee’s Personal Dashboard

At Timesheet Portal, we run our internal processes using the product we sell to our clients. With this said, every new starter is onboarding through our system, providing them with firsthand experience of the module and its functionality.  Once the process of submitting and getting the approval on documents is complete, the onboarding interface becomes the employee’s personal dashboard. Instead of having siloed platforms for running employment-related operations down the light, the employee will be coming back to the outlet they’ve got their first experience with.

Here they will be able to update/replace their documents, request holidays and submit business expenses. The key information in regards to their employment is also stored there, and each staff member will be responsible to set their dashboard to be the way they need it to be. For example, a contractor will be needing quick access to clock in/out and timesheet modules. A department manager, on the other hand, could do with an instant overview of the team calendar to see who’s annual leave is upcoming.


The hybrid workplace is an approach that surfaced out of necessity as the restrictions imposed by a pandemic were gradually getting lifted. However, it proved to be more effective than a fully remote or fully in-person work environment, therefore it is predicted to remain popular long post the virus. However, since this work model is brand new, there is still a lot of adaptation and optimisation to be done. Onboarding is one of the processes that are most susceptible to changes that can improve the overall performance of your business in the long run.

Combining the in-person approach with personalisation granted by automation, not only is hybrid onboarding quicker but also more individual and goal-driven. Both these factors, when utilised correctly, offer a wide range of advantages. Better talent retention, team alignment, improved performance…The list goes on.

Are you ready to bring your onboarding process to a new level?  We would love to help.

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.